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‘Screenagers’ and In/Active Lifestyles: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of Healthy Life Span Promotion

Margaret MacNeill

Young people are increasingly the targets of public health and private-public sector campaigns to promote active lifestyles and longevity of the life span (Arnett, 2012; Faulkner, Kwan, Brownrigg, & MacNeill, 2011). Yet media campaigns alone cannot redress the barriers to physical activity. In this paper I argue that theories of life span and social marketing approaches to health promotion share a grounding in the behavioral sciences that need to be broadened to consider social determinants of active and inactive lifestyles and uncover how youth audiences make sense of health promotions. As such, I suggest how the social marketing of healthy life spans can move upstream to advocate policies and programs for youth activity. In this article I a) critically examine our shifting notions of youth and assumptions about life span, b) highlight trends in media consumption by youth, c) consider how kinesiology can broaden the social marketing lens to active media advocacy for social justice, and d) raise implications for research and intervention.